OOH Creatives: What makes them Stand Out from the Crowd?

What Makes OOH Creatives Stand Out? An In-depth Look

It’s common knowledge that a good OOH campaign depends on a variety of factors; things like regionality, channel mix and campaign weights are all important in determining success. But the one thing that has been proven to be the most influential is probably the most underrated; the creative itself. Previous studies by Millward Brown have shown that a good creative, one that builds strong brand associations, is capable of trumping everything else.

But what makes a good creative? At Talon we decided to try and answer that question by building Talon Canvas, our in-house creative testing tool. Talon Canvas measures attention and engagement using eye-tracking technology and real people. It can tell us which parts of the OOH creative people are more likely to look at, for how long and in what order. This allows us not only to optimise creatives for use in OOH campaigns but also to understand what creative principles work best in our medium.

One of the first and probably most important learnings is that simplicity in OOH is key. Busy creatives that have more than five components, tend to underperform when tested with Talon Canvas. This is simply because people’s attention is fragmented across too many parts of the creative, which also usually leads to a messy layout. Having in mind that in several OOH environments, we only have a few seconds of people’s attention, we need to make sure that the creative is simple and easy to understand. The essential parts of an OOH creative are the image, the headline and the logo as they allow people to quickly absorb the brand message.

We have also discovered that layout fundamentally affects how we absorb the component parts of an ad. Landscape creatives are usually read from left to right and portrait creatives from top to bottom. This has serious implications, as we can now strategically position creative elements, like the headline or the logo, in order to divert attention to the most important ones. It is also best for these creative elements to be laid out in a sequential order, with no barriers to attention like block messaging, in order to facilitate the flow of the creative components and promote message takeout. We’ve certainly noticed this has an important impact on attention levels.

Having tested more than 200 OOH creatives already this year, it is very clear to see that logos are often the weakest link. The reason for that is that in most OOH creatives, logos tend to be small and not fully integrated in the message. This results in being outshined by other parts of the creative and running the risk of people not being able to link the creative to the brand. Thankfully we have uncovered several ways to improve logo performance whether that involves making the logo bigger, positioning it closer to better performing creative elements or using brand colours to encourage brand association. In short, logos should be more integrated and given equal “creative” consideration in OOH.

Our creative testing work also allowed us to confirm a long held notion in OOH that motion works! Animated OOH creatives are better at generating attention and keeping it for longer. In several cases, we found out that animated creatives attracted +30% more attention and for twice the amount of time when compared to a static creative. This is simply because our brains are hardwired to detect motion. Motion also allows us to influence the creative’s visual sequence. By controlling the order in which different parts of the creative animate, we can focus attention where it is mostly needed.

A good creative will always be subjective and difficult to define but it needs to reflect the essence of the brand. We have numerous award-winning campaigns (Waitrose, Channel 4, Google, Carlsberg & others) where the brand and medium work together to communicate the message brilliantly.

What we have attempted to do at Talon is to highlight several creative learnings around attention to allow small tweaks to OOH creatives by applying what works best in our medium. OOH is an ever-changing landscape and we strongly believe that understanding what a good OOH creative consists of, will play an important role in the way our industry will evolve.